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Diversity initiative aims to grow black presence in funds industry

People Moves SmallA group of investment firms is attempting to increase the amount of black people working in asset management by connecting the industry with black students.

Redington, an investment consultancy, is leading a student initiative and working alongside nine other financial services companies, including Aon, Fidelity International and Morgan Stanley.

Less than 1% of investment managers are black while London’s black population is around 13%, according to the ‘Black Voices’ report published last year by Investment Association (IA).

The firms – all members of The Diversity Project – will work with more than 25 black students, primarily from schools across South London, and find ways to increase applications and opportunities for young black people in entry-level asset management roles.

Redington chief executive Mitesh Sheth, said the initiative was an opportunity to hear directly from young black students about the obstacles they face and their suggestions for increasing access into asset management firms.

“It’s a chance to step out of our echo chamber, hear their perspectives and hopefully identify some talented young people too,” Sheth added.

Karis Stander, managing director of the IA’s Investment20/20, said: “While there appears to have been a steady improvement in ethnic diversity within the industry, there is still a long way to go both in entry-point recruitment and in terms of progression. There is a noticeable lack of ethnic diversity amongst industry leaders – and, in particular, black leaders.”

She told Funds Europe: “For there to be meaningful change and a lasting positive impact, the strong solidarity we have seen in recent weeks needs to move into meaningful action. Talking about these issues is the start, but not the end.”

The Diversity Project also launched on Monday a ‘compendium’ to help the investment and savings industry accelerate inclusion and diversity. 

Jayne Styles, co-lead of the Diversity Project’s ambassador programme, said the Covid-19 pandemic had accelerated change. “With such an uncertain outlook, it is more important than ever to embrace inclusivity and diversity to enable business resilience and building back better,” she said.

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